E302 7213 LITERATURES IN ENGLISH, 1600-1800
1:00p-2:15p TR (30 students) 3 cr. A&H.
TOPIC: “From Monarchy to Democracy”
This course considers a range of texts, literary and extra literary, written during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Beginning with Shakespeare's King Lear in the context of Jacobean England, we will end with Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Women in the context of the impact of the American and French Revolutions. Along the way we'll read works by Donne, Milton, Swift, Aphra Behn, Pope, Rochester, Paine, Jefferson, and Tocqueville, and others who influenced the shift in English and transatlantic culture from 1600 to1800. We will pay special attention to how the assumptions of the "age of reason" shifted literary focus away from a politics couched largely in religious, philosophical, and ethical terms onto concerns with manners, "civility," and the nuances of "polite" social behavior. We will explore from a number of critical and theoretical perspectives a period of time that moved from debates about Divine Providence and "fixed" human nature to debates about rational scientific progress and the power of individual reason and that continued to debate whether women are "innately" inferior or are socially trained to be so. We will look at how the notion of "the literary" itself is produced as a cultural category during this time period. And we will study the ways authors achieve aesthetic effects with specific social and historical contexts.
Requirements: There will be three short papers, a midterm and a final exam. Attendance and participation in discussion is mandatory, and will count for a portion of the course grade.